Clearly, the Texas Rangers were in a funk, and getting damn tired of the entire state of California. In their last seven games, they’d lost five; two-of-three in Anaheim and three-of-four in Oakland.
Yeah, Oakland. Ugh.
So, naturally, their final opponent during their 10-day West Coast tour was the San Francisco Giants.
Remember them? Sure, they were the ones who finally solved Cliff Lee’s unbeatable postseason riddle— ending the Rangers’ World Series bid in five games back in 2010.
The G-men also happen to play in a park that Texas had yet to win a game in. Not one stinking game! Heck, the Rangers hadn’t won a game in the city of San Francisco since 1998.
And oh yeah, toeing the rubber in game one was Barry Zito (18-6 career against Texas.)
If Zito pitched as well against every other team as he usually does against the Rangers, he might be punching a ticket to the Hall of Fame.
But, hey, if baseball was even moderately predictable it sure as hell wouldn’t be as much fun…especially when it’s the Texas Rangers’ turn to defy the odds.
Playing crappy in Cali? Craig Gentry wasn’t having it. Woeful on the westside? Ian Kinsler had had enough. Add another losing streak to the Rangers long list of recent letdowns? Matt Harrison said “no way.”
Harrison (8-3, 3.87 ERA) was masterful. He scattered just five hits over his nine innings of work, with four strikeouts and zero free passes.
Of his 111 pitches, 77 were of the strike variety (69%) and 18 of the 27 batters he retired he did so via the ground ball out.
Harrison’s fine effort was the highlight of the night but not the whole story…
Craig Gentry, hitting machine
• Gentry matched the entire Giant’s hit total with his 5-for-5 performance last night. His average skyrocketed 40 points, to .341. His 2 RBI—from the 8-hole—would have been enough by themselves for the win.
When Ian Kinsler pops it up 380-feet, we don’t groan
• Second pitch of the game, Kinsler takes Zito deep to left field for his seventh big fly of the year.
Let the hitters hit
• Every starting non-pitcher (NL ball is a beating) recorded at least one hit last night for the Rangers.
Here’s a look at some other numbers of interest from last night:
• Average number of long balls launched at AT&T Park per game in 2012—the lowest of any park in the major leagues.
• Career total in leadoff homeruns for Ian Kinsler after his first inning smash.
• Also the number that Josh Hamilton now has on the year.
• Coming into last night’s contest, 22 was the total amount of homers hit at AT&T ballpark all season before Kinsler and Hamilton connected.
• With the 5-0 win, Matt Harrison picked up his 8th win, tying him for the American League’s most with Rays left-hander David Price.
• Number of shutouts Harrison now has in his career.
• Also, the number in years since he threw his last one.
• Number of home runs the Rangers had managed over their last 8 games…they needed only five innings to match that total last night against Zito.
• …long days since Hamilton had hit his last home run—May 29th against the Seattle Mariners.
Here’s hoping the Rangers can start their first winning streak since last month’s Toronto Blue Jays beat down…
The second game of this best-of-three series is scheduled for a 3:05 (CST) first pitch and will feature the Rangers’ Scott Feldman (0-4, 7.01 ERA) against the Giants’ Ryan Vogelsong (4-2, 2.38).
Sure, on paper this might look like another mismatch favoring the Giants. But so did last night’s game, and that one worked out just fine.
Make sure to check back this afternoon for the full game two preview as only BaseballDo can…um…do!